MIAMI (AP) -Florida Marlins right-hander Josh Johnson underwent elbow surgery on Friday and likely will sidelined through the 2008 season.
Johnson underwent ligament replacement, known as Tommy John surgery. He is expected to be out 12 to 18 months. The surgery was performed by specialist Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla.
``From what I've been told and what I've experienced, it seems the relievers can return in a year but starters need that extra three months or so,'' Marlins manager Fredi Gonzalez said Saturday. ``So you're looking at spring training '09 for Josh.''
Johnson pitched only 15 2-3 innings this season and went 0-3 with a 7.47 ERA.
Johnson's arm first bothered him last September. His most recent attempt to come back ended when he complained of elbow stiffness the day after a three-inning rehabilitation start last week for Class-A Jupiter.
Johnson went 12-7 with a 3.10 ERA in 2006 and finished fourth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting. He spent the first 2 1/2 months of this season on the disabled list because of an irritated ulnar nerve in his right elbow, then made only four starts before he was again sidelined by forearm stiffness.
``I think he'll be fine once he gets that rehab stuff out of the way,'' Gonzalez said. ``You see guys who underwent Tommy John surgery, they come back and pitch better.''
Johnson is one of three second-year Florida starters sidelined this year by injury. Johnson, Anibal Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco each won at least 10 games as rookies in 2006, but this year they're a combined 3-6 in 67 innings.

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